The Art Of Tea Making
With me being what you could call “one of the great British tea drinkers,” I consider that the art of making a good cup of tea is of great importance and should be preformed with care and patience. Just slopping in of milk and sugar, or not paying adequate attention to quantities and timings is a big no-no. Nothing is worse than weak tea, or a tea that has been contaminated with aromas from one’s cupboard, so always ensure that your precious leaves are always stored in an airtight container. I give this rule first, because, without good fresh leaves, the process to brew a good cup is totally pointless, and nothing will disguise the fact the the leaves are stale. The amount of times that I have been served at a cafe with a tea that has obviously been bought in a bulk plastic bag and then left open to the elements for god knows how long cannot be counted, so if any cafe owners are reading this, please be mindful of the above.
Many people say that they prefer coffee, and get more of an instant hit to set them up in the morning for their day at work, for these people I give a warning, yes coffee does give you that “Instant hit” but unfortunately, the effects are very short lived and when the effects have worn off the come down is as instant as the initial hit. With tea, you have a more of a gentle awakening, and the effects last much longer with a more gradual wearing off of the effects, so a good cup of tea in the morning will be sure to see you through until your first tea break at work.
I must also mention, that I have named this article, “A Cup Of Tea And A Slice Of Cake” because quite simply, in my humble opinion, tea is too wet without either a slice of cake or a biscuit of some description. However, I leave this decision as to what accompaniment one has to the reader.
Making Of The Tea
Personally I advise and also prefer to use good quality loose tea, and also use a fine bone china cup and saucer. However this is not always practical in these modern times with our busy lifestyles, so using teabags and a mug are quite acceptable when time dictates. I admit, I often succumb to this tardiness. Milk and sugar are obviously added to one’s own preference, so obviously to this there are no hard and fast rules as to amounts, sugar is added to counteract the slight bitterness of the tea. With milk, in Victorian times, tea was considered to have slightly detrimental effects on one’s overall health, so they added milk, which they believed negated any ill effects that the tea may have., please do not let this put you off of the British national beverage, as in this instance, I believe that the Victorians were, should I say, misinformed.
Now to get down to the nitty gritty part of my article, the actual making of our nations favourite beverage. First of all, and of great importance, always use freshly drawn water, I cannot state enough the importance of this, and how much difference it actually makes to the flavour. Obviously fill your kettle with the required amount. With the wonder of modern technology we can now buy kettles that will boil just one cup, however I advise to add just a tad more too make sure that you get a full cup,as some of the water may boil off with steam. Now, whilst the water is still boiling, whilst you are waiting for your waiting for the kettle, you can prepare your teapot, yes, a teapot, it’s just uncouth to make it in the cup, also, with loose tea, very impractical. First of all ensure that your pot is adequately warmed, this ensures that the boiling water does not cool down too fast when poured into the pot, which has the effect of not brewing the tea correctly and also runs the risk of the drinker not having a hot enough cup of tea, I am sure that there are many other detrimental side effects, but I am not a science buff. Now, the old rule is one spoonful of tea per person, and one for the pot, I do not think that this rule is hard-fast, so your own personal preference, is best here, but still care is needed so that your tea-making is consistent and you then have the knowledge to alter the amounts to get YOUR perfect drink. Once this is completed, your water should just about be boiling, would you believe that in Victorian times, health and safety were of importance, even in the kitchen. Mrs Beeton’s book on household management advised the next procedure and I believe that it also rings true for today’s modern times and that is always carry the pot to the kettle and not vice versa, you can’t say that I am not responsible to our readers.
Now the brewing time, once again, this is also down to the individual preference of the reader, it also depends on which kind of leaves that you are using. Personally, I like a good strong cup, so I brew mine for five minutes, (which Mrs Beeton also advises) and this ensures that I get a full bodied and flavoursome drink. I also personally use very little milk and must admit, that many people think that this may be a tad over the top, so once again, I suggest that the reader experiments to get their own preferred strength. So whilst the brewing process is underway, I suggest putting the cups, saucers, milk and sugar onto a tray along with your brewing tea and proceed to your preferred place to enjoy your nice relaxing cuppa. (Don’t forget the biscuits or cake, or even a sandwich. The pouring of the tea has one small matter of importance that I must not forget to add. Whilst pouring, spout of the pot must be at least four inches above the cup, this allows air to enter the tea releasing the wonderful flavors. Remember to use a tea strainer to catch the leaves. Now add your milk and sugar to taste, sit back and enjoy.